Ethier expected to be out quite a while

Ethier expected to be out quite a while

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers don't know when outfielder Andre Ethier will return, but it won't be any time soon.

Ethier, who suffered a herniated disc in his lower back March 6, is still experiencing discomfort, manager Dave Roberts said on Wednesday.

"I talked to him yesterday, and he said he had normal soreness," said Roberts. "He's doing some running, nothing baseball-wise, and he felt a little sore. Today, if it feels good, he's going to do some running. On the baseball front, I don't know when that's going to be. Once that starts, then we have the progression and we'll have a more accurate timetable. He's still a ways out."

Translated, that usually means months and not weeks. Having been shut down for a month already, once cleared for baseball activity Ethier will need to go through the equivalent of a full Spring Training before he's Major League ready.

The club initially announced that Ethier had a "mild" herniation. The Dodgers also initially called Clayton Kershaw's disc herniation last year "mild," but with a setback, he was out for 2 1/2 months.

"There was a path [for Ethier] to potentially be down for four to five weeks or to try to take a little more aggressive approach and know you're going to go through some soreness and balance it out, and that's the way Andre decided to go," said Roberts. "Each day as he tries to get closer and does more activity, it will let us know how aggressive we can continue to be."

Ethier, who turns 35 on Monday, missed almost all of last season with a broken right leg when he fouled a pitch off it. He reported to Spring Training fully healed from that injury and was expected to make the Opening Day roster.

In his absence, rookie Andrew Toles has assumed the left-handed-hitting half of the left-field platoon.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.